SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The leaders of the people of the city sign an oath to recommit themselves, the people, their families and their future to God.
- They commit to a number practices which keep their focus on God.
- They commit to keeping the temple of God (the place God physically lived during this time) up and running. They agree to a tax for every man which will pay for some necessities for the temple.
- They also agree to sustain the temple (and the temple workers) by giving their offerings. These offerings included grains, cattle, children, sheep, fruit.
- Often it is easy for us to allow distractions in our life to take our focus off of God. That's why God didn't want his people to intermarry. It brought distractions from other cultures which took away from their relationship with God.
- Even today, God wants us to bring him the first fruits of our labor. It might sound strange for the Israelites to bring their kids as an offering (and no, they didn't sacrifice them, the children would serve in the temple as workers, often for a set period of time). But the idea was that God deserves the first of everything.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What distracts you from your walk with God? What can you do to keep your focus on God?
- God wants us to bring him our first fruits, our offerings. It isn't that God needs your money, but He wants your heart. Giving our money to God helps us to ensure our hearts are pointed toward him.